GTA housing market highly vulnerable: CMHC

by Neil Sharma on 29 Mar 2021

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has declared the Greater Toronto Area highly vulnerable in its latest report.

The crown corporation’s Housing Market Assessment determined Canada’s largest metropolitan area, which it previously rated moderately vulnerable, is showing signs of surplus inventory and high rental vacancies. There was, however, low evidence of overvaluation in the GTA in the fourth quarter of last year.

“The average overvaluation gap moved lower, compared to the previous quarter, and was below its critical threshold,” said the portion of the report prepared by CMHC’s Dana Senagama. “The pandemic resulted in job losses in lower paying services-producing industries, while other higher paying industries were left relatively intact. Therefore, while observed real house prices increased relative to the previous quarter, their level was below that of prices supported by economic and demographic fundamentals such as low income and population growth.”

The GTA’s housing market had a sales-to-new-listings ratio of 64.1% in Q4-2020, leading the agency to conclude that there’s little evidence of overheating in the region’s housing market. Despite the second wave of COVID-19 infections sparking another lockdown through autumn and winter, higher household savings, low borrowing rates and pent up demand conspired to push adjusted sales up 1.2% and new listings down 3.2%.

Metro Vancouver still has a moderate degree of vulnerability, with CMHC detecting neither overheating nor overvaluation, and the sales-to-new-listings ratio sitting below the critical threshold.

“While there was considerable price growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, fundamentals predicted a stronger increase than what was observed,” wrote Eric Bond. “Household incomes increase in Vancouver, even after accounting for net government transfers. Factoring in the decline in mortgage rates means that buyer households enjoyed stronger budgets.”

Both the GTA and Metro Vancouver had elevated rental vacancy rates as a result of fewer immigrants and international students.

“In addition, regulatory changes restricting short-term rentals in the City of Toronto resulted in an increase in new listings of condominium apartments on the resale market.”

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